To explore eating patterns and snacking among US infants, toddlers and pre-school children.
The Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS) 2008 was a cross-sectional national survey of children aged 6–47 months, weighted to reflect US age and racial/ethnic distributions. Dietary data were collected using one multiple-pass 24h recall. Eating occasions were categorized as meals, snacks or other (comprised of all feedings of breast milk and/or infant formula). The percentage of children consuming meals and snacks and their contribution to total energy, the number of snacks consumed per day, energy and nutrients coming from snacks and the most commonly consumed snacks were evaluated by age.
A national sample of US infants, toddlers and pre-school children.
A total of 2891 children in five age groups: 6–8 months (n 249), 9–11 months (n 256), 12–23 months (n 925), 24–35 months (n 736) and 36–47 months (n 725).
Snacks were already consumed by 37 % of infants beginning at 6 months; by 12 months of age, nearly 95 % were consuming at least one snack per day. Snacks provided 25 % of daily energy from the age of 12 months. Approximately 40 % of toddlers and pre-school children consumed fruit and cow’s milk during snacks; about 25 % consumed 100 % fruit juice. Cookies were introduced early; by 24 months, 57 % consumed cookies or candy in a given day.
Snacking is common, contributing significantly to daily energy and nutrient needs of toddlers and pre-school children. There is room for improvement, however, with many popular snacking choices contributing to excess sugar.